Today we will examine the last section of Jesus’ discourse in John chapter seven. We see first that Jesus gave an invitation to drink (37-39). “On the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink.’” Let me explain several things about the Feast of Tabernacles to help us better grasp this passage. Leviticus 23:33-43 and Deuteronomy 16:13-15 tell us that the feast was seven days of celebrating followed by an eighth day that was a “high day” or sabbath. On the first day, seventy bullocks were offered on the altar, then fewer each day after that. The families slept in their tents, commemorating the Exodus. Each day, trumpets sounded, leading processions with palm branches and water. South of the temple grounds was a reservoir known as the Pool of Siloam. A procession made its way from the Temple to this pool carrying a golden pitcher with which to draw water from the pool. For the first seven days of the feast, they would travel to the pool to fill this pitcher, all the while singing the Hallel Psalms, Psalms 113 through 118. The pitcher of water was then poured out on the temple altar while the procession recited Isaiah 12:3 “With joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation,” memorializing when God supplied water out of the rock for the children of Israel. This ceremony offered water back to God in appreciation. On the eighth day they offered no water on the altar to show that they were looking for the ultimate deliverance, the water of salvation.
Can you imagine anything more dramatic than when Jesus stood (normally rabbis remained seated as they taught) and cried out, “If anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink!” The procession had come with no water, believing that salvation had not yet come. Jesus said that those who drink of this salvation would become a source, an artesian spring, that brings the water of life to others (38). John says Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, not yet given, because Jesus had not yet been crucified and ascended into Heaven after which the Holy Spirit would take up residence in and provide power to every believer. (39)
After Christ’s invitation to drink, we see the rejection of Christ (40–53). Predictably, the people there began to form opinions and choose sides. Some believed Jesus to be “the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” Others queried in objection, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee?” We see disbelief and division, because most of the Jews could not overcome their prejudice and preconceived ideas. Remember the Pharisees had sent the temple guard to arrest Jesus (32). These guards returned with no prisoner, only awe and amazement, “No man ever spoke like this man!” (46) The Pharisees were so riled by the situation that they made a brash statement to Nicodemus (52). “Are you from Galilee? Search and look for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee!” Really?! Hatred clouds the mind of clear thinking. Have you ever heard of a guy named Jonah? From Galilee. Does the name Hosea ring a bell? From Galilee. What about Nahum? From Galilee. Elijah and Amos? All prophets out of Galilee! They hated Jesus so intensely that they said ridiculous things, thereby rejecting Jesus’ message of life.
Here are two truths from this rich passage that we can easily apply to our lives today. First, make your judgments carefully (7:24, 49). “Do not judge not according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (24) It is easy and common to judge by appearances without checking the facts or discerning properly. God told Samuel, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (I Sam 16:7). Secondly, proclaim the truth boldly (7:37, 38) Jesus did not turn aside from his course of duty. There were dangers in Jerusalem, but truth had to be proclaimed. Jesus came to the temple when He knew the Jews were out to get Him. He lifted up His voice announcing salvation to those who would receive it. We too must lift our voices to those who are desperate and dying from spiritual thirst. They need Jesus!